I felt this for weeks (if not months) before now. Last week, Reader editor Taryn Allen wrote an entry for the Reader’s new Arts & Culture newsletter about the city’s slate of film programs; she simultaneously encouraged me to plan a trip to the movies and reminded me of the vast number of culture events I wish I could experience every week.
Chicago’s springtime culture offerings not only provide me with occasional bouts of YOLO but also some professional pain points. I only have so much room, and time, to write about music events happening in the city every week; often I want to write about three times as many upcoming shows as I can manage. Every issue, we publish about a dozen concert previews (and album reviews) that provide a snapshot of music in the city, which we plan several weeks in advance. Sometimes, an interesting music event gets announced after we’ve made assignments, which makes it more difficult to write about it in advance.
I often write about some of these events that were too late for our routine coverage in Gossip Wolf, the weekly music column I cowrite with J.R. Nelson. But we’re just as often limited by space constraints that make it difficult to fit in everything we want to write about. On weeks the Reader publishes in print, we fit the column into a slim part of a newspaper page—it can only accommodate a little more than 300 words. On non-print weeks we can write longer, and we often do; last week’s column included an obituary for Record Wonderland co-owner Pat Deasey that’s longer than the space allotted for the column in print.
All of which is to say, there are a lot of music-related events in the city I want to make our readers aware of but can’t always fit in elsewhere. So I want to spotlight more of those events in this space—and, yes, including some shows the Reader has covered. So here’s what’s coming up this week, with links to Reader stories when applicable. This is just a small sample of what will happen over the next few days. I hope you get a lot out of it!
Thursday, May 4:
• GZA at Promontory: He’ll perform all of 1995’s Liquid Swords, which Luca Cimarusti wrote about a few years ago.
• HIRS Collective at Reggie’s Rock Club: Concert previews and album reviews editor Jamie Ludwig wrote about the uncompromising and colorful Philadelphia grindcore unit for print.
• defprez, Semiratruth, and J Bambii at Golden Dagger: I wrote about the alchemical combination of Chicago rappers Defcee and CRASHprez, aka defprez, ahead of their record release party.
• OK Cool, Scarlet Demore, and Background Character at Schubas: I’ve been keen on Chicago indie-rock duo OK Cool for a few years, and their new album does not disappoint—so I wrote about their record release show!
Friday, May 5:
• Elkhorn, Elijah McLaughlin & Jason Toth, and Scott Verrastro & Ian McColm at Hungry Brain: Longtime Reader contributor Bill Meyer has the details on two instrumental ensembles on this night’s Hungry Brain bill.
• Kid Koala at Shady Rest Vintage & Vinyl: The whimsical Canadian hip-hop producer just dropped a double-LP album that’s also a board game, and he’ll be playing an in-store set at this Pilsen shop Friday evening. The following day, he’ll perform twice at Epiphany Center for the Arts, and those sets are presented by the Chicago Humanities. (I last wrote about Kid Koala in 2018.)
• Confused House presents Ron Morelli, Club Music, and Traxx at Podlasie: Jason Letkiewicz’s Confused House label hosts a night headlined by Ron Morelli, who runs one of the best underground dance labels in the world, L.I.E.S. (Also this is a good opportunity to encourage you to re-read Micco Caporale’s deeply felt feature on Podlasie, which is a finalist for a “Best Arts and Entertainment Reporting” Lisagor award.)
• Feist at Radius: Peter Margasak wrote about the Canadian star Leslie Feist for the Reader in 2017 (and many times before too).
Saturday, May 6:
• Rlyr and Pinebender at GMan Tavern: The heavy underground supergroup Rlyr celebrates the vinyl release of last year’s self-titled album, which I wrote about on its initial arrival. (Vinyl manufacturing delays are just one of many challenges facing independent musicians these days.)
• ZBR Fest at Subterranean: Chicago-and-Vancouver screamo and heavy label Zegema Beach Records throw a two-day festival headlined by old-school skramz flag-bearers Jeromes Dream on Saturday. (I wrote about the band’s reunion in 2019.) •
Sunday, May 7:
• Humboldt Arboreal Society’s fifth season kickoff: My favorite summertime weekly house series returns. It’s free, easygoing, and totally inviting. If you ever find yourself in Humboldt Park on a Sunday afternoon this summer, follow the sounds of house music till you find this delightful event.
• Queen! Anniversary at Smart Bar: If you’ve never experienced this Chicago institutional event, this ain’t a bad time to swing through. Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini, and Garrett David spin; hosts Lucy Stoole and Nico will be joined by guest hosts Omar O, Miss Toto, Bambi Banks, and Valentine Addams.